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The Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation Gives Out $24,000 in Scholarships


ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA - May 24, 2008 - The first-ever Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation (HMEF) Scholarship Luncheon occurred Wednesday, May 21, at Pittsburgh Blue restaurant in Maple Grove. The event was held to give out some $24,000 in scholarship funds to students pursuing higher education in the field of hospitality. In addition, the foundation recognized eight Minnesota ProStart students from the two winning teams of the state competition. Both teams represented Minnesota at the national competition held in San Diego, one in the area of management skills and the other in the area of culinary skills. Lastly, the luncheon recognized the ProStart teacher of the year.

"These young people are truly inspirational. The dreams they have for future achievements in this industry uplift us all," said Dave Siegel, HMEF President and Executive Vice President of the Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations, which created the foundation. "With 34 schools teaching an average of 15 students, we're graduating 500 students a year prepared. In 10 years, we'll have graduated 5,000 future leaders for our industry. That is the vision," he said. 

Thirteen students received scholarships toward their pursuit of higher education in the hospitality field. 

The Alan Bell Honorary Scholarship was awarded to: 

• Nikia Hedin, S.T.E.P Anoka
• Kristine Zwack, Art Institutes International Minnesota
The American Express Restaurant Industry Development Scholarship was awarded to: 
• Jennifer Dinndorf, Sauk/Rapids/Rice High School 
• Jordan Kowitz, S.T.E.P Anoka. 
The Cote Family Foundation Scholarship was awarded to 
• Maxwell Mraz, Culinary Institute of America. 
The CSM Lodging Scholarship was awarded to: 
• Philip Franklin. S.T.E.P. Anoka 
• Anthony Gjorvad, Art Institutes International of Minnesota 
• Sue Nielson, Art Institutes International Minnesota. 
Torgerson Properties Incorporated scholarships were awarded to: 
• Ashley Anderson, S.T.E.P. Anoka 
• Nathel Anderson, Minnetonka High School 
• Tangee Harrison, Le Cordon Bleu 
• Blake Markell, Owatonna High School 
• Nicholas Mastley, Andover High School 

Also at the luncheon, the two winning teams from the second Minnesota Pro Start Invitational were honored. The 2008 Minnesota ProStart Invitational took place March 26 at Southern Minnesota State University in Marshall. ProStart is a two-year high school curriculum in restaurant management now being taught in 34 Minnesota high schools. 

The winning culinary team from Hopkins High School is comprised of Scott Silverman, Corey Groshens, Nate Trombley and Robyn Pokorny. 

The winning management competition team at the invitational was the Sauk Rapids/Rice High School team of Tai Nugyen, Caitlin Hites, Rachel Shefvland, Liz Arnold and Sam Klatt. 

Both teams had the opportunity to travel to San Diego, California to participate in the National Competition April 24 to 26. 

At the luncheon, representatives from each team spoke. Tai, representing the Hopkins team, said teacher Mary Levinski deserves a lot of credit for helping the team make it to nationals. "She basically guided us every step of the way, so we are very grateful," he said. "I want to thank her so much." At nationals, Tai said the team was noted for being one of the nicest and most pleasant teams there. "It was good we could represent Minnesota as the friendly state," he said. 

Nate spoke about the experiences of the Sauk Rapids/Rice team. "We cooked our hearts out," he said. Nate said the team was recognized for its professionalism, as the members wore shirts with ties under their dress uniforms at the event. Nate said this was one of the best experiences of his life.

Also at the luncheon teacher Levinski was recognized as the recipient of the Minnesota 2008 ProStart Educator Excellence Award. She was acknowledged for her passion to encourage students to strive for excellence in serving others through culinary education. 

Kathy Ellefson, a ProStart teacher at the Elk River High School, was also recognized for her selection by the Minnesota Association of Career and Technical Administrators for the "Outstanding Teacher" award for the entire state. 

About the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation 
HMEF was founded by the Minnesota Restaurant Association, Minnesota Lodging Association and Minnesota Resort & Campground Association to: 

  • Implement high school curricula (ProStart and Lodging Management) to train the future employees and leaders of the foodservice and lodging industry. 
  • Initiate a strong and sustainable scholarship program for students graduating from ProStart or Lodging Management. 
  • Highlight the excellent career opportunities within the hospitality industry and demonstrate the essential role foodservice and lodging plays in Minnesota’s economy. 

For more information about the foundation, contact Betty Fisk at
Kevin Moe
Communications Manager

Photos from the event are available. Contact for details.


Faith Thoms
Director PR & Communication
Hilton Hotels Asia Pacific (Singapore)
Tel: +65 9171 0223

Also See: Brad Stevens, Hotel Manager at Shooting Star Casino Hotel, Mahnomen, Elected President of the Minnesota Lodging Association / February 2008


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